Some lovely words form the founder of Car-Free Day Norwich:
'I'm Matt, and I started the Car-Free Norwich campaign last September, so this event is a pretty brilliant first birthday present for us.
We are living through a climate crisis (as you might have heard). We are also living through an air pollution crisis, which kills 40k people prematurely every year in the UK alone, and where our nation has the worst childhood asthma rates in all of Europe. And we are living through a public health crisis, where 20 million UK citizens are classed as physically inactive. The dominance of private car ownership bears a direct responsibility for all of these, so we cannot begin to tackle them without kicking cars out of our cities. Cars have stolen our right to breathe clean air and they've stolen our children's right to play freely and independently in their neighbourhoods.
There is no reason why Norwich cannot be the most walkable and cyclable city in the UK, with a state-of-the-art public transport system to be proud of. And there's no reason why Norwich can't have the cleanest air of any UK city. We just need to start designing our city around people, not cars, making cars feel like the visitors in a public space and not owners of the public space.
In this spirit we've launched a petition to get NCC to permanently close this road as well as Gaol Hill and Exchange Street, to general traffic. Please find the petition on our Facebook or Twitter pages, or sign it here on our tablet. And go to our website, carfreenorwich.co.uk, to find out more about our mission.
Please, enjoy this wonderful day, and enjoy this beautiful space that XR have created for us - I cannot thank them enough so can we please have a massive cheer for all of their amazing efforts. And let's continue the fight together for a Car Free Norwich!'
Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and passion in organising today's street party!
More photos of the event can be found in the gallery.
Extinction Rebellion Norwich were joined by XR North Norfolk for a Clean Air Die In at the centre of Anglia Square. The shoppers were very curious and we handed out a LOT of leaflets advertising Car Free Day on September 22nd. Activists began the event by walking around with breathing masks and inhalers, before 'dying' under the canopy as the Declaration of Rebellion was read loudly. There was also a guest speaker talking about the proposed redevelopment. The Anglia Square security team were super friendly and helpful - even helping us hang our banner on the balcony! Attended by local TV and print press, we certainly got some attention. Rebels were so enthused that they proceeded from the square on foot into the city, where they died again on Haymarket. A great outreach event!
-Ames (XR Norwich member)
XR UEA is having their first meeting back after the summer break.
Find out more here.
'As promised, the line between crew, performers and public was indeed blurred as we were directed towards our stall site and given some ropes and a tarp to build a structure for the weekend’s outreach and workshops. We set to work climbing up trees and knot tying, got out our yellow banner and pink boat and soon made ourselves at home.
Harlequin Fayre is a fantastic local family festival with a free and earthy vibe. We were so warmed by festival-goes thanking us for our presence- nearly everyone we spoke to had heard of Extinction Rebellion and were encouraged to get involved in one way or another. Our ‘Headed for Extinction’ talk had a great turnout in the Thinking Room despite being at 10AM the morning after a rambunctious Friday night and our afternoon NVDA training equipped keen new members with civil disobedience tactics and knowledge. Our talk on climate and ecological justice grounded us all and reminded us why we are doing this; for those on the frontline of the crisis who are already suffering disproportionately. We also held an emotional debrief circle for those wishing to share their feelings surrounding the climate emergency. This was heartbreakingly popular with young people worried about their future.
The experience was overwhelmingly positive and it’s fantastic to see the word about our movement is spreading. Using 80% solar power, this festival has a small footprint and a big heart and I can’t wait to attend again next year.' -Shereen
Pimp My Unicorn
We were thrilled to be offered the chance to be part of the two week event showcasing art, poetry, politics and glamorous dress ups from the LGBTQ+ community in Norwich.
XR Norwich had a space at the back of St Margaret's church to exhibit some of the heartfelt protest art that has been created over the past few months.
Our talented member Fern also created a giant unicorn piece to hang on the wall. A very colourful little corner of art activism to be explored during the two weeks.
The event kicked off on Monday 22nd July with lots of powerful speeches made on Launch night. Having many queer members, XR Norwich have a real gratitude and admiration for those who for generations have protested and fought for the rights that the LGBTQ+ community have today in the UK. XR Norwich member Simon spoke about his involvement with Extinction Rebellion and the importance of protest and taking action whilst there still remains inequality in the world.
We share this one planet and we share it with one love.
There is no Climate justice without Equality.
XR members also used the space in St Margaret's Church to hold a mini practice peoples assembly ahead of the real one planned for the end of August. It covered how Extinction Rebellion can become more inclusive and how the rights of LGBTQ+ people will be affected by Climate change.
Special thanks to Vince Laws for getting us involved and Victoria for organising it.
Stalls at the Forum
The 27th and 28th of July were two very busy days for XR Norwich, with stalls at both Pride and The Vegan Fayre.
A great team effort to get the stalls looking beautiful and thanks so much to all those who volunteered some of their time to hand out leaflets and talk to people at the events.
Whereas before at outreach events, a lot of time has been spent explaining who we are, this time there was a real feeling that the name 'Extinction Rebellion' has hit the mainstream. Although it remains hard, having conversations about the climate crisis seems to be becoming a much more approachable subject for people of all ages.
Although the activism remains a tricky concept for many, there was a sense that most people agree, something has to change ! Local support seems to be growing.
With so many new XR groups springing up, we were able to not only promote XR Norwich but also point people in the direction of their own local group in Norfolk or Suffolk.
There were some really interesting and encouraging conversations with the public and it was a pleasure to spend the weekend at two such joyful and important events.
We also got to let our hair down at Pride and danced till we could dance no more!
What a great bunch of people to spend a weekend with.
Bring on October !
Today across five cities in the UK, people have risen up and the Summer Uprising has begun.
We stand in solidarity with these actions and today held a peaceful protest outside Norfolk County Council in opposition to the Westernlink road.
For two weeks last April, Extinction Rebellion took over central London to demand the government acknowledge the climate crisis and do what is necessary to tackle the emergency.
Extinction Rebellion had 3 demands :
1) DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY - Tell the truth and acknowledge the crisis
2) GO CARBON NEUTRAL BY 2025 - Act Now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gases
3) CITIZENS ASSEMBLY - Go beyond Politics to bring about climate and ecological justice.
In response to the Rebellion the government declared a climate emergency but since doing so have failed TO ACT like it really is an emergency. Our government continue to go about business as usual with worryingly insufficient responses. Time is running out!
Ice is melting, fires are raging, sea levels are rising, and hundreds of thousands of people are suffering because of climate breakdown. We are facing the sixth mass extinction and the collapse of civilisation will be a stark reality of this.
Nationally and locally we continue to see companies drilling for oil, fracking, expanding airports and investing time and money into more highly polluting infrastructures. Just where is the urgency? Where is the respect, care and protection of our world and our children's future?
Norfolk County Council have today announced their chosen route for the Western link road. If the threat this poses to local wildlife, peoples health and the beautiful landscape wasn't bad enough, the decision also shows their desperately disappointing vision to tackling climate change. Our house is on fire!
As a young local protester so bravely put it to the council today.......'I am Amelia, I'm 9 years old and you're taking away my future!'
A member of Norwich XR made this speech at the protest today-
'We stand in solidarity with movements around the world, seeking climate and social justice just like we are here calling for today. We are here today calling for justice locally, and yet our vision and message is also international, as we acknowledge that communities all around the world are facing the effects of climate change and environmental degradation, standing up for their rights and against the powerful and corrupt, and facing the dangers of repercussions against their campaigning and activism.
I wanted to talk briefly today to remind us all that the first reality we must face is that the effects of climate change are not shared equally. While it is people in the Global South and marginalised communities here in the Western world who are the first to feel the impacts of extreme weather events, food crop failure, and air pollution, their voices are rarely heard.
I recently heard an inspiring talk about the huge social injustice that underpins the crisis we all currently face. In it, I was introduced to the idea of the climate change Titanic. The idea is that we are all on the climate ‘titanic’ together, and we are all about to hit the proverbial iceberg - the tipping point, the point of no return, the ‘too late’.
Yes that might be true, but aren’t some of us on the deck, drinking cocktails and listening to the orchestra, thinking that there is going to be some miraculous answer that will save us, and while that’s happening we can keep building roads… And in the hold, isn’t that all the people facing extremes of marginalisation, poverty, injustices on the front-lines of environmental conflicts, in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin america ….and right here in the UK in some of our most deprived communities. And aren’t they drowning, and aren’t they trying to escape, and as they try aren’t they realising that YOU have welded the hold shut. And isn’t THAT the real story of climate change?
So Norfolk county council - take our planet off your development business plan because it is NOT for sale. The fight we bring here today is the fight of our lives and we refuse to sacrifice those of our oppressed brothers and sisters for your profit.' - Tina
To find out more about our actions to stop the Westernlink road and what you can do to help, please see the bottom of the homepage
For more pictures from the days protest visit our gallery here.
News articles below.
At the beginning of July, Hayley Pinto, her daughter Sasha and a group of volunteers teamed up to deliver day long workshops to children aged 12 and 13 in Norfolk. First at Norwich School and then twice at Thorpe School the week after.
Hayley is a member of Greenpeace, CHAIN (Climate Hope and Action In Norfolk) and most recently Norwich XR. As a local doctor, she realised the urgent need to address climate change after reading the word ‘Catastrophe’ in a medical journal. Her daughter Sasha has just completed a degree in Zoology and understands the need to protect and enhance biodiversity in the face of human ecological destruction.
Believing strongly that young people have the right to know the facts regarding their world and their future, the aim of the workshops was to inform, educate and empower young people to take action for change. The workshops were in depth and inspiring, covering hard hitting topics in a powerful yet playful and dynamic way.
Split into two parts, the first half of the day covered the current issues of climate change and its impacts on the earth, its species and humankind. A mixture of talks, videos and interactive quizzes, the morning session explained the facts, science and consequences of the current crisis. There was then a lunch break and an opportunity for the children and staff to digest the material they had covered.
The second session was all about the ‘Solutions’ to the crisis. Encouraging the children to problem solve and come up with inventive ideas that could address the climate emergency. The children worked in small groups each dealing with one subject matter.
1. Energy - demand
2. Energy - production
4. Cities - Design and Materials
5. Buildings - Design and Materials
6. Consumption - Fashion and what we buy
8. Diet and Food Waste
9. Land Use, forests and wetlands
12. Human Health
Given fact sheets, online references and books, they were required to work together and negotiate with other groups to come up with action plans. For example Agriculture may of requested people change their eating habits by communicating with Diets and Health may have requested better air quality from Transport and cycle paths form City Design to improve activity levels.
Groups were rewarded points for their efforts to reduce carbon emissions and also scored for their ability to enhance biodiversity. Prizes were given to the winners so competition was high!
The days workshop was rounded up with short presentations from each group and reflection on what they had learnt. The children were asked to consider what they could do as individuals to take action and a summer challenge was set.
The workshops were really positive with the children engaging really well with the subject and working really hard to understand the content. There was a lot of information given and it was respectfully pitched at a very high level. The children responded really well to this and thrived when given the chance to take on the responsibilities to solve the issues themselves. Coming up with more solutions in the space of an afternoon, than many politicians have managed in a lifetime!
Feedback from Norwich school:
‘I am emailing to congratulate you on Climate Day (4) – certainly the best so far. As always your organisation was superb, and you presented your message in a way that conveyed both urgency yet a determination to apply practical, effective and balanced responses. I thought timings were precise: a morning to present a range of challenges and an afternoon to focus on solutions. Delivery was excellent and the pupils responded accordingly. It was evident to them that Hayley was passionate but also highly informed, nuanced, balanced and non-judgemental. I judged the quality of student response to be high. Hayley did an excellent job marshalling pupil comments and offering tweaks or insights of her own.
Climate Day also seemed quite ‘easy’ this year. This reflects excellent organisation (thanks Helen and Fran too), support from volunteers (thanks to Sasha and your colleagues Hayley) but mainly because a well-paced day was packed with learning and purposeful activity.’ - Tom
‘Please can I echo your thanks Tom. Although I didn’t get to see the activities (other than a brief 5 mins in the morning) I’ve heard from my son, who is in U4, just what a good day it was – he certainly learnt a great deal and also said he enjoyed himself. Thank you to all of you for your hard work in organising this excellent and really beneficial day for our pupils.’ -Richard
It was a pleasure and a privilege to volunteer at the workshops. It was a breath of fresh air to hear the children's perspectives, intuitions and clarity on what needs to be done! A real mess us adults have got ourselves into! Lets stop and listen to some of these wise younger folk.
There is hope these school workshops will continue next year. If you are a teacher or a parent, why not suggest one is held at your local school.